As November comes to a close and we slip into the busiest month of the year, there is much to be grateful for. One of my favorite things last month was the opportunity to speak about my books to the 5400 Club of the Carole and Marcus Weinstein Jewish Community Center. While the focus of my book talk was the history I wrote for this fabulous organization, I also got the opportunity to talk about my mystery series. Thanks so much to the 5400 Club for your time and all the fabulous questions! Even more fun was signing books after the talk and seeing all the other fabulous books for sale at their week-long Book Fair.. Icing on the cake was the chance to chat after the event with the talented Nancy Wright Beasley, author of IZZY’S FIRE and THE LITTLE LION. The entire project, from start to finish, will always be one my favorite projects.
November is also typically an important month for writers–especially those who took on the NaNoWriMo challenge. While I knew I didn’t have the time to devote to the full challenge, I did push my word limits during the weeks I could. Some of those words were for small tasks/jobs, but the bulk of them were for the fourth book in my Cancini series, THE NOVEMBER MOTIVE. I’m thrilled with how this book is shaping up and look forward to sharing it with my Beta Readers soon.
For those that did participate in NaNoWriMo, CONGRATULATIONS! It doesn’t matter whether you reached 50,000 words or stalled at 39,000 or 15,000. You put words on the page! Publisher’s Weekly recently posted Harlen Coben’s Five Writing Tips. All were good advice but two of those tips really stood out for me.
“The distance is nothing. It is only the first step that is difficult.” Harlen Coben
It’s good writing advice, but also good advice for most things in life. Many aspiring writers (runners, builders, inventors…) struggle to get started. It’s normal, but no dream can be achieved without taking that first step. So, you’ve written that first word (and maybe 49,999 more). Hooray again! Pat yourself on the back and then step back, because that’s when some of the trouble often begins. Writers are sometimes criticized for putting out 50,000 words in only a month. How many times have we heard that it must be crap, worthless, a pile of junk that no one would want to read? Don’t listen to any of that. Most writers will tell you their first draft needs work. Rare is the writer who doesn’t need multiple revisions. The important thing is that once you’ve written your story, be objective, and recognize that it will need some work. So what? Mr. Coben has good advice here, too.
“You can always fix bad pages. You can’t fix no pages.” Harlen Coben
At the end of the day, writing the first draft is only one step in the process and getting those words on the page–no matter how bad you think they are–is a worthy accomplishment. More often than not, with good editing and re-writing, those bad pages can be molded into something special. Thank you, Mr. Coben for that great advice.
To all writers, aspiring and accomplished, keep it going and Happy December!